Jim Furlong: Strange Days Indeed

There are several advantages to being a senior citizen. The Coronavirus  certainly is not  one of them. When you hear all the warnings it certainly does “give you pause.” Once upon a time a couple of aspirin and a hot toddy would haul you through any medical unpleasantness that might be around. Not today. Now it is necessary to be careful and to some extent;  to be lucky. 

Unchartered waters

This is unchartered waters for me, just as it is for you. I can be cute and funny and offer encouragement, but this really is serious business and there are no sure answers. Last week I offered the opinion that when civilization ended it would be by virus rather than nuclear war.  A real “Job’s Comforter” I was. Now I don’t think in my darkest moments that that is going to happen, but I don’t wish to imply that I do know what is going to happen because, like yourself, I don’t. Particularly troubling, apart from the health crisis, is the economics of it all.

I watch the bottom drop out of the market every day and wonder where it all ends in terms of layoffs and employment and all the things associated with that like savings. These are questions  that will be answered in the fullness of time.  

There have been for sure, over the years, some health events in Newfoundland and Labrador. There have been flu outbreaks and the scourge of TB and a polio epidemic that closed our schools for a couple of  months back in the 1950s, but there has never been anything remotely like this COVID-19.  

We are all on a new and strange path.  Like yourself I hope for the best but prepare for the worst. We didn’t run out and buy 100 rolls of toilet paper, but we didn’t have to either. Wife is a member out to COSTCO and buys things according to a pattern I don’t understand. 

On a given day she could come home from shopping with 50 100-watt light bulbs or 50 blocks of butter. Somewhere in the fairly recent past she went toilet paper crazy, so we were okay there.

Sawdust epidemic

We did buy some hand sanitizer before they ran out and I went and bought some masks. Judy bought two masks at the drug store and I bought several packages at the hardware store. Unfortunately, they were carpenters masks. The upside of that is that if there is ever a sawdust epidemic that is visited  upon us somewhere down the road, we will be fine.  

We did buy some extra food and water and we keep the two cars filled with gas. That is just common sense. We also withdrew some cash from the bank. I always do that for big storms. It is just a habit of mine. We have Tylenol and a few other drugs on hand; a bottle of Vicks VapoRub and assorted cleaners. It is all preparation for … I know not what. 

We have now essentially self-isolated. That’s not hard when you are retired and nearly 75 years old. I mean I don’t HAVE to go out to Canadian tire every day to buy a AA battery. While our intentions were good there are lessons here for you trying to protect yourselves because I have made errors.

Last Sunday morning I drove my car to Chamberlains beach to look at the waves, which is a regular habit. There was a family there, taking pictures with Bell Island in the background. The man was taking pictures of his wife and  daughter. I approached them and offered to take a picture of all three of them together. In retrospect that wasn’t a good idea at all. For all I know they could have been just off a flight from Italy or Spain or China. I took the picture anyway.

Not my finest hour

You think I would learn my lesson but the next day the wife and I went to a market for ONE item. While she was checking it out through the automatic teller, I promptly sat down on a bench next to an elderly gentleman who was waiting for his wife. Shortly thereafter a woman came along and joined us and struck up a conversation. Three old people on a bench in a supermarket. Not exactly my finest hour in terms of self-isolation. 

The whole thing certainly puts pressure on us as all. Things seem so normal, but they are not. The cat must be fed. There must be salt on the walkway. Supper must be cooked, but there is a virus spreading. Wife and I spend the day together just as we spent yesterday together and will spend tomorrow together. That takes patience as it does for  you and your family but there are better days ahead. Have faith. 

Eventually the wave of the Coronavirus will recede. It will be summer, and we will get out to the garden for a beer again. That is my hope. 

2 thoughts on “Jim Furlong: Strange Days Indeed

  1. Paul Priddle
    April 4, 2020

    that was a beautiful short story, a story of awareness, sure hope everyone follows your advice

  2. April 9, 2020

    Great story Jim, especially Bell Island in the background. Keep up the great work.

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